My last flight to Vienna. Airport bound. I bought a green smoothie in one of the airport’s kiosks and went to my gate. The smoothie was delicious so I took a picture of it, posted on Instagram stories and… And than I realized. Ok, the smoothie was good and healthy but the list of disadvantage was long. What I also got together with my drink was PLASTIC cup, PLASTIC cup cover and PLASTIC straw. Was using so much single – use plastic worth my 5 minute drink? The answer is obvious. It was not.
Did you know that over the last years annual production of plastic increased to 381 million tonnes? Just to give you a context, this is roughly equivalent to the mass of two-thirds of the world population. The same properties that make plastics so useful — their durability and resistance to degradation — also make them nearly impossible for nature to completely break down. About 60% of that plastic end up in either a landfill or the natural environment. We have become addicted to single-use or disposable plastic and if current trend continue, our oceans could contain more plastic than fish by 2050. Clearly, much plastic is sinking and doing its damage to our planet. You can read more about plastic pollution here.
So what can we do now? Use less plastic. Some of the tips below I have introduced few years ago to my travel and daily life, some of them I’m implementing now. It is not always easy or convenient but I believe that trying and making even small steps towards plastic-free world should be our common goal. Will you join me? Also, if you have any other tips to share, please let me know. We should all educate one another :)
1. Limit usage of mini products
I stopped buying mini products some time ago but must shamefully admit I was a fan of it at the beginning. I still remember how happy I was when companies started to produce their products in “travel light” mini versions. Mini shampoo, mini deodorant, mini soap and all my face creams in mini packages. Well, we all want to travel light and putting these mini products in our hand luggage is so convenient. But after a weekend trip we just throw away all the empty bottles and voile, we end up having more plastic in the environment. Mini products are usually not refillable and very often the package is constructed the way you can not reuse it for other purposes. What does it mean? That you buy another set of mini products packed in mini plastic bottles.
What I do instead? I try to take all my products in a normal size package, preferably made of glass. I have also found a great replacement for some of them and my recent biggest discover is make-up remover glove. Instead of taking all make-up removal cosmetics, I take with me this GLOV product which makes magic and costs less than 10 euro. It’s a specially designed glove that is removing all your make-up (including mascara!) just with water. After all, you just need to rinse your glove, dry it and it’s ready to be used again. The other advantage is that it’s really light and small so it will not hurt your hand luggage at all. I am especially proud of this product as it has been invented and introduced to the world by two talented Polish girls.
2. Try to avoid airport take away food
I found a great place at the Frankfurt airport where all take away food is packed in bio-degradable packages. Wish we could have more places like this at all airports. Most of the airport food spots will pack your food in tones of plastic that you will trow away right after finishing your meal. Plastic bag, plastic boxes, cups, straws, cutlery, the list can go on and on.
What I do instead, If I only can I try to eat before heading to the airpot. And if I need to eat at the airport? I try to make sure I have enough time to eat in place before heading to my gate, so there will be no need to pack my food in any plastic. Another great option is to bring to the airport your own food packed in a paper or reusable boxes. There are also some positive side effects – this will save you money. Airport food, especially in Europe, is usually twice as expensive as outside of the airport. It’s not a fun at all to spend almost 10 euro just for an airport sandwich.
3. Always carry a canvas bag
I introduced this rule to my life already few years ago. Yes, it was annoying at the beginning because I was constantly forgetting my canvas bag, but believe me, you can get used to this simple and helpful habit quite quickly. You can treat it as a part of your styling too! Canvas bags come in so many variations that you can choose between something bold in colors, something minimalistic or even a statement canvas bag with a nice slogan. The bag can be fold to a small size, is pretty resistant to carry heavy things and you can wash it if needed.
When you think about canvas bags you probably have in mind grocery shopping but this is not the only way to use them. I always have my canvas bag with me when shopping clothes or beauty products to avoid plastic bags that most of the high street shops are still using, especially during sales. I’m sure you all know one very popular high street shop that is using paper bags only for regular shopping and during sales is packing your clothes in plastic….
When traveling a canvas bag or even few of them are my must have in the suitcase. It can be a great addition to your hand luggage to keep some loose stuff with you onboard or you can simply use it to separate shoes or laundry in the suitcase to keep it well organized. I use for this purpose canvas bags I ofter get for free with my online shopping. They are not only nice gifts but also very practical luggage organizers.
4. Invest in reusable eco coffee cup
There is still 100 billion single-use cups that go to landfill each year, even though we already live in a generation were reusable takeaway cups are available almost everywhere. Must say when I introduced reusable eco cups in my life, somewhere like 6 years ago, I really hated them. I had 3 reusable cups and all of them had the same issue. The cover was made of rubber material and was absorbing all the scents. This terrible smell was destroying all my pleasure from drinking coffee. It was simply awful and I couldn’t find any way how to get rid of it.
Well, this issue does not exist for me anymore and the solution came as a bamboo fiber eco cup. My bamboo cup is made from natural, sustainable bamboo fibre, including the cup cover, what means it does not absorb any scents. The cup is light, keeps the temperature well, leaves no plastic-aftertaste and is fully dishwasher safe. Do I need to convince you any longer? Bamboo cups come in so many colors and variations that the choice can satysfy absolutely any taste.
5. Buy a reusable water bottle
Drink more water, use less plastic. The idea is as simple as that. Did you know that only about half of the plastic bottles produced globally are recycled? And less than 10% are recycled into new plastic bottles? Reusable water bottles are not only beneficial to the environment and our wallets but they help to keep us healthy. You don’t like the taste of water on its own? Me neither. I never really liked it but since I started to add lemon I find it tasty. You can also spice up your water by adding to your reusable bottle fruits, herbs, or even vegetables, to create a refreshing drink.
In many places worldwide you can fill your bottle directly from the tap for free or from water dispensers for a small amount of money. I found such a place even in the small city of Montepulciano, in Tuscany, where you can refill your reusable bottle with still or sparkling water for only 0.05 euro cents. Doesn’t it sound great?